Monday, September 8, 2014

Projects X 2: The Berry Barn & The Weeping Circle

It seems as if life around here is operating on a delay much of the time. Too busy? We're getting older? Maybe a little of both, but it feels good to have two of our planned projects completed now. One, The Berry Barn, should have been done last fall and The Weeping Circle was something I've wanted to do for a couple of years now. Neither really took all that long, but you know how that goes.

Thornless blackberries beginning to ripen earlier this season.
We've got six thornless blackberry plants, or at least that's what we started out with a few years ago - three each of 'Chester' and 'Triple Crown'. They've done well and we've gotten some great tasting berries from them, but the birds like them as much as we do. We've netted them in the past, but nets are a pain.

There are also three Raspberry Shortcake thornless raspberry plants I received as test plants from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery a few years ago in close proximity to the blackberries. We've never gotten any berries on those, but it could be because just when they were getting big enough to possibly give us some, the rabbits decided they would do us the favor of chewing them off at the ground. We forgot to cage them last winter. Our bad.

Last year's 'Jelly Bean' blueberries

For the past couple of years, we've grown blueberries in containers, mostly because we've got alkaline soil here and blueberries like it acidic. It's easier to control the pH when you grow things in containers.  We've got some great compact varieties, also test plants from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery ('Jelly Bean' and 'Peach Sorbet'), as well as 'Pink Lemonade'. But I wanted to try them in the ground, amend the soil around them, and see how they did.

2012 Blueberries

So how did they do?  Ask the rabbits.  By the end of last summer, I really thought they were large enough to withstand a little rabbit pressure, but nooooooo... The rabbits sheared them all off right at the ground too. It was a rough winter for everyone. But guess what? None of them died, even though I was certain they were goners. We didn't get any blueberries this year, but they did recover nicely and I expect to get some next year.

To better address these bird and rabbit problems, I came up with an idea. My husband dislikes it when I do this, because he knows my ideas mean work for him. He's not opposed to working in the yard or work in general, but he likes it better when it's his idea. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't finagle this into being his idea in any way. But he agreed to build The Berry Barn. (I have other ways of persuasion.)

My idea was to build a wooden frame and put chicken wire all around it to keep the birds and bunnies out, but still allow pollinators in. Since the raspberries and blueberries would remain relatively small due to the varieties they are, and with all of those planted about 4-5 feet south of the row of blackberries, I wanted the roof line of the enclosure to be asymmetrical, being longer on that side. Hubby says, "Can't you just ever do something the simple way?"



To make a long story short, The Berry Barn got built (my dad even came out and helped one day), and I was so happy with the way it turned out, I literally was jumping up and down.  Hubby smiled. I suspect the rabbits and birds will not be pleased. Too bad, so sad.

In the same week, a paved circle was placed around one of our weeping trees, the Weeping Extraordinaire™ Double Flowering Cherry (Prunus x 'Extrazam'), from Lake County Nursery/UpShoot!. This project didn't take nearly as long and was made easier by special ordering the patio kit from Menard's. No cutting of pavers!


Hubby didn't understand the need for this project at all, but he agreed that it looked nice when it was done. There were a couple of other little projects on my list - a cinder block wall by the pool house and a short trellis near the newly-planted Eco-Lawn area in the middle of the garden. More on those later!


Stephanie Wharton-Lynch said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the berry barn! I have a feeling we are going to have to do something of the sort if we ever want anything to make it in our yard!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have some great projects. I have felt like making one of those berry barns before but didn't do it. I will be interested to hear how it works out. The tree with the stones around it is very pretty.

1st Man said...

WOW! I LOVE this idea. Pure genius. Not that I need another future project but this will be on the list.

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